IRAN AND LIBYA SANCTIONS ACT OF 1996 (House of Representatives - June 18, 1996)

Mr. HAMILTON. Mr. Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the distinguished gentleman from New Jersey [Mr. Torricelli].

Mr. TORRICELLI. I thank the gentleman for yielding time.

Mr. Speaker, I too, want to congratulate the gentleman from New York [Mr. Gilman], the gentleman from Indiana [Mr. Hamilton] and the work of our committee in bringing this sanctions legislation before the House today. But I would be less than honest if I did not also express some profound disappointment.

If this legislation today had come before the House in an amendable fashion, I would have been offering an amendment to provide that the sanctions against Iran would remain in place not simply until it ceases terrorism against the world but until it respects the rights of its own people. In enacting sanctions against Iraq, Vietnam and Cuba, this body respected the rights of the people in those countries and insisted upon strong sanctions until the war against them, their political rights, their freedom and their safety was respected. Somehow with regard to the Iranian people, despite the deaths of the Baha'is, Christians, Jews, a Moslem majority, we take no such action. Because this bill comes before us on the suspension calendar, that amendment is not possible and indeed it is on the suspension calendar so such amendments are not possible.

It will be difficult to explain to Iranian-Americans and indeed one day to the people of Iran when they ask, `You took sanctions to defend yourselves, why did you not take them to respect us?'

Second, Mr. Speaker, I also express profound disappointment because this is not the same legislation that left the Committee on International Relations. We had sanctions against Libya but they were mandatory. Until Colonel Qadhafi handed over to international justice those who were responsible for Pan Am 103, there were going to be sanctions, no ands, ifs, or buts. But between the cup and the lip, they became optional. A sigh of relief in Tripoli, and, frankly, Mr. Speaker, a difficult explanation in my State to the 37 families who thought we were going to have mandatory sanctions and now are left at home wondering why.

Mr. Speaker, I have participated in many proud and principled moments on this floor when this Congress has taken strong positions. I am glad today that we, if we alone in the world, stand up to Iran and Libya in their injustice. But frankly we could have done more, for Iranians locked in the prison of their own country who want someone to stand up not only to international terrorism but domestic abuse as well, and to those poor families left wondering why there is an option in standing up to Qadhafi.

Mr. HAMILTON. Mr. Speaker, I yield 1 minute to the distinguished gentlewoman from Connecticut [Ms. DeLauro].

Ms. DeLAURO. Mr. Speaker, the Iran Oil Sanctions Act strikes at the heart of international terrorism.

For too long, terrorists have menaced innocent people around the world with their cowardly attacks. Sadly, we have seen the tragic effects of these attacks many times this year. Hamas bombings claimed nearly 60 lives in Israel while recent rocket launches by Hezbollah threatened the lives of those in northern Israel.

Talking reason will not get us very far with fanatics who are willing to kill men, women, and children whose only fault was to be in a marketplace, on a bus, or on an airplane at the wrong time. We need to cut the supply line that allows terrorist groups to continue their disgraceful campaigns. We need to cut the flow of funds to these criminals.

Iran and Libya stand out as major sponsors of terrorism around the world. This bill strikes at these backers of devastation and will limit their ability to underwrite acts of terror as they have done for far too long.

I urge my colleagues to take this stand against those who bankroll cruel terrorist violence.

Mr. HAMILTON. Mr. Speaker, I have no further requests for time, and I yield back the balance of my time.

Mr. GILMAN. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

(Mr. GILMAN asked and was given permission to revise and extend his remarks.)

Mr. GILMAN. Mr. Speaker, in the most recent State Department report on international terrorism, Iran was again deemed the most dangerous state sponsor of terrorism.

On May 21, in a speech before a symposium of a prominent Middle East think tank, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, our Secretary of State, Mr. Christopher, said Iran was guiding, as well as funding and training, radical groups opposed to the Arab-Israeli peace process.

Earlier this month, Bahrain presented hard evidence that Iran was involved in attempts to destabilize that country, an important U.S. ally in the gulf. Several of those captured by Bahraini authorities admitted to have been trained in Iran and by Iranian agents in Lebanon.

We have learned just last week that Iran is using its virtual takeover of the Abu Musa island in the Persian Gulf to improve port facilities on that island and Iran could use that expanded port facility to handle the fast patrol boats it has recently received from China.

We are calling on other nations now to curtail any efforts to refinance Iran's mounting bilateral debts and to end their supply of arms and technology to Iran and to Libya. We strongly urge Russia to stop work on its contract to finish Iran's nuclear reactor in Iran.

Enactment of this bill is a vital element in the administration's policy of containment of Iran and of Libya and I urge its immediate adoption.

Mr. FAZIO of California. Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of the legislation before us today. The Iran Oil Sanctions Act of 1996 will impose sanctions on persons exporting certain goods or technology that would enhance the ability of Iran or Libya to explore for, extract, or refine their petroleum resources.

This bill will help to deter these rogue states from supporting international terrorism or acquiring weapons of mass destruction which would lead to greater regional instability.

I believe that this bill is a critically important element in our policy of cutting off the sources of funding to the Iranian and Libyan regimes who are responsible for much of the state-sponsored terrorism which continues to plague the region.

Since the 1979 seizure of the American Embassy in Tehran, economic sanctions have formed a key part of our Nation's policy toward Iran. Various actions taken by our Government have disqualified Iran from receiving United States foreign aid, sales of items on the United States munitions lists, Eximbank credits, and United States support for foreign loans. In addition, strict licensing requirements are needed for any United States exports of controlled goods or technology.

This legislation adds to these restrictions by exploiting Iran's economic vulnerabilities, particularly its shortages in hard currency. By pressuring the Iran Government in this fashion, we will force it to change its behavior.

Iran threatens our national interests. It openly sponsors groups bent on regional and global acts of terror and it is actively pursuing weapons of mass destruction. As Under Secretary of State Peter Tarnoff said before the House International Relations Committee last fall, `a straight line links Iran's oil income and its ability to sponsor terrorism * * *.'

This bill serves that link. I urge all of my colleagues to support H.R. 3107.

Mr. ARCHER. Mr. Speaker, as many of my colleagues know, I was not a proponent of H.R. 3107 as introduced. I want to thank Mr. Gilman, Mr. Leach, Mr. Clinger, and the respective committees involved for their efforts to work out the agreed substitute amendment, which was approved by the Committee on Ways and Means on June 13. These changes, which are incorporated in the bill before us today, make it possible for me to support the Iran and Libya Sanctions Act of 1996.

While we can differ on approach, Americans are united in their perception that Iran is using economic benefits, gained through foreign investment in its oilfields, to support expanded terrorist attacks and the accumulation of weapons of mass destruction.

Likewise, Libya refuses to relinquish the two individuals accused of bombing the Pan Am 103 flight over Scotland to face criminal charges, and fails to respect norms governing weapons of mass destruction. Americans remain fundamentally dismayed that, as our firms pull back from investment and trade with these countries, our trading partners and allies are not restrained in their pursuit of lost United States contracts.

The bill reported from the Ways and Means Committee reaffirms my goal that our trading partners join with the United States in a multilaterally agreed regime to stem Iran's ability to export international terrorism to the rest of the world. Too many innocent individuals have suffered at the hands of Iran's Government for business as usual to persist. In this bill, we make clear that our allies cannot continue to look the other way.

However, this legislation puts a priority on supporting the achievement of a multilateral agreement to isolate Iran economically.

In order to keep the focus on achieving change in Iran, the substitute contains provisions providing discretion for the President. Thus, we ensure that he is in the best position to be persuasive with our trading partners, and to respond to violations judiciously. Where the President determines a country has taken substantial measures to join with us to contain the threat of Iran to international peace and security, section 4 of the bill permits a waiver of the application of sanctions.

While the investment trigger for Iran remains mandatory in the new bill, the substitute increases the number of choices available to the President on the menu of sanctions he has to choose from.

In this and all other cases the President has authority to waive sanctions if their application would hurt the national interest. The waiver authority is intended to be broad enough to accommodate instances when invoking sanctions would be violative to international trade obligations.

I want to emphasize that the bill as reported from the Committee on Ways and Means treats the cases of Iran and Libya differently, because of their unique economic histories and geopolitical circumstances. While a mandatory trade trigger is viewed by the Committee on Ways and Means as unworkable for Iran, and therefore not included in the substitute, such a mechanism has been included as a tool for Libya. The difference is that a multilateral regime is already in place for Libya.

Subsection 5(c) also provides the President with the discretion to impose sanctions in connection with new, large investments in Libya's petroleum sector, if he believes it would advance U.S. interests to do so.

I hope our allies can appreciate the deep and urgent commitment in Congress for increasing pressure on Iran and Libya to end their lawless behavior. While the approach of H.R. 3107 carries with it the risk of exposing U.S. exporters and investors to possible retaliation, this threat has been minimized in the substitute. With the addition of solid contract sanctity language, and strict limitations on vicarious liability for companies with parents or subsidiaries located abroad, the bill should not engender the same serious criticism.

Finally, the 5-year sunset provision in the bill ensures that this type of legislation does not remain on the books indefinitely. The committee report indicates that because this is such a difficult policy area, it will be important for Congress to revisit these issues in 5 years in order to evaluate the behavior of Iran and Libya, and whether this bill has been effective.

To summarize, Mr. Speaker, my greatest fear has been that world attention would shift to United States violations of trade agreements and away from the targets of our condemnation--Iran and Libya. I strongly urge the President to implement H.R. 3107 in a manner that respects our international trade obligations. To the nations of Europe, Japan, Australia, and others I renew a pledge to work together to establish a multilateral solution that isolates these two outlaw nations.

Let's join forces and accomplish the job. Working together involves each country taking substantial measures that achieve results--mere words will no longer suffice.

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Mrs. JOHNSON of Connecticut. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to express my concern with the precedent that could be set by provisions of H.R. 3107, legislation originating in the International Relations Committee, and referred to the Ways and Means Committee on which I serve.

No one argues that the goal of bringing the Pan Am 103 bombers to justice, nor with containing international terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. We must find ways to increase United States and international pressure on these rogue nations and the threat they pose to U.S. interests. However, I do have concerns with H.R. 3107's provisions that may rely on unilateral actions rather than multilateral cooperation.

The concept of a secondary boycott was opposed by the United States when the Arab League used it against Israel in the 1970's and 1980's, and remains contrary to the principles endorsed by this very body when it approved NAFTA and GATT. Indeed, U.S. law, most recently enacted in the Export Administration Act, has long prohibited any U.S. person from `complying with or supporting' a foreign boycott against another country.

The use of trade sanctions to accomplish trade law compliance is vital and appropriate but the use of trade sanctions as a foreign policy tool to coerce other sovereign nations to do our bidding breaches America's commitment to preserving independence from international control. It is fundamental to U.S. participation in trade agreements that other governments should not be permitted to dictate business relationships among U.S. firms and citizens, as H.R. 3107 could do for our trading partners.

Mr. Speaker, as the world's greatest exporter, the United States benefits tremendously from free and open trade with our allies. Given our past commitment to an international trading regimen, the United States should not expose United States exporters and investors to possible retaliation through abrogation of international rules, or exacerbate the dispute with our allies over policies toward Iran and Libya. If it becomes possible for countries to dictate each other's policy under threat of trade sanctions, U.S. participation in these important organizations could be threatened.

Put at risk by unilateral U.S. action are the benefits to the U.S. economy created by strong protection of intellectual property rights, the guarantee of competitive bidding opportunities under the Government Procurement Code and dramatic tariff reductions for U.S. exports--all of which were improved and expanded by NAFTA and GATT.

Instead, I would urge that we work to avoid the painful consequences of trade retaliation and continue pressing for additional multilateral action and enforcement of existing agreements. As in the case with the extraterritorial Helms-Burton law which penalizes firms outside the jurisdiction of the United States for trading with Cuba, foreign governments will not permit their firms to comply with such legislation. As we seek to contain and punish terrorists and those states that sponsor them, we do not want to drive a costly wedge between the United States and its allies whose support we are seeking.

While I will be supporting H.R. 3107, I am doing so because it provides the administration adequate discretion in executing the provisions of this bill. Moreover, in doing so, it is my hope that the administration will effectively implement multilateral sanctions against Iran and Libya.

Mr. GILMAN. Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.

The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Stearns). The question is on the motion offered by the gentleman from New York [Mr. Gilman] that the House suspend the rules and pass the bill, H.R. 3107, as amended.

The question was taken.

Mr. GILMAN. Mr. Speaker, on that I demand the yeas and nays.

The yeas and nays were ordered.

The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to clause 5 of rule I and the Chair's prior announcement, further proceedings on this motion will be postponed.